Published: Sat, December 30, 2017
Health Care | By Alice Shelton

Trump fires entire Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS

Trump fires entire Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS

The remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS were fired en masse this week. Six members of PACHA resigned from the council back in June, stating that their departure then had to do with Trump's negligence on the important issue.

The terminations were effective immediately, the paper reported, citing epidemiologist Patrick Sullivan. Former President Barack Obama did the same thing to George W. Bush's HIV/AIDS council.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has proposed massive budget cuts to programs created to help fight and eliminate HIV/AIDS.

Scott Schoettes, a Chicago-based HIV/AIDS activist and senior attorney for Lambda Legal, was one of these six staffers who resigned in June.

She also defended Mr Trump's decision to dismiss the members, saying alterations of a federal advisory committee are "a common occurrence during administration changes". "Two, many of us, our terms were over earlier this year and we were sworn back in, and three were stayed on almost four months after an executive order was signed continuing the council".

Also of note, during the Obama administration, almost all of George W. Bush's appointees were eliminated prior to new appointees being named.

Gabriel Maldonado, a member of PACHA and co-chair of the Disparities Committee (now terminated) shared the following in a statement with GPB.

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"So far we have not seen the administration actively reach out to any advocates around HIV policy at all", she said.

"Like any administration, they want their own people there", Maldonado told the Washington Blade. It also mentioned the 1.1 million Americans now living with HIV.

As of September, President Donald Trump signed an executive order renewing PACHA for an additional year so the move to fire the current council without explanation seems brash. The president's 2018 fiscal year budget seeks $150 million in cuts from HIV research at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and more than than $1 billion removed from programs like the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

"I just am coming to the acknowledgment that the traditional tactics of politicking and policy and strategy and negotiation, the kind of standard tools that we're trying to use, that the status quo is no longer acceptable", Maldonado said. "Every organization serving people living with HIV and fighting to end this epidemic must galvanize their networks of clients, staff, and volunteers to resist and fight back against these unsafe HIV policy decisions", he added.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

The across-the-board axing was announced in a letter delivered via FedEx to all 16 members and comes as the Trump administration already faces flak for how it deals with LGBTQ issues.

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